My wife is always reminding me that a happy wife is a happy life. The same goes in business: a happy employee is a happy work life. Keep that in mind and realize that both positivity and negativity spread. When your employees are positive, they will be more productive. The best way to accomplish this is to effectively manage your team.
Don’t Take Advantage of Helpful Team Members
Life happens. There is no denying that. When you get in a jam you may have specific “go-to” employees you count on. These are the ones who always seem ready, willing, and able to help out. It may be a quick easy solution to your problem at hand, but it will eventually burn them out. It may get to the point that they feel they are not allowed to say “no” to you. You may think as the manager, they should not say no to you. However, if you have given them tasks and deadlines, you are putting their reputation, along with yours, on the line.
Appreciate the Effort, Don’t Expect It
Could asking the same employee(s) cause unnecessary overtime? As a manager, it is important to be aware that overtime is not just about money, it is about time. At the beginning of this, I talked about happy wives and then happy employees. Picture the wife your employee goes home to after several hours of overtime. Now and then most spouses are understanding, knowing their husband (or wife) is working to provide and the job sometimes warrants extra time. This is acceptable within reason. Start making it a habit and your employees now see you as someone who expects them to come to the rescue, instead of being appreciated.
Utilize Your Entire Team
When you run into a jam, take the time to call on others, and be systematic about your approach. Do you have any part-time employees or students available? Make an effort to never call someone in from requested time off or, worse yet, vacation. Always reaching out to the same people can make your other employees think you are playing favorites. You might utilize a sign-up sheet if time allows to help cover these times.
Deadlines must be met; however, you still need to be realistic in your requests. If your team is unable to accomplish something, they may feel like failures and will never achieve success. It will also result in a delay in completion, causing you to miss your deadline anyway. On the same hand if you promise something to your team, you need to follow through. If you don’t follow through, you will lose their respect.
Ideas Can Come from Anywhere (and Anyone!)
When working with your team, everyone should be contributing to the success. Take the time to listen to your team and consider any idea they may have. The idea may not work, but they will still feel like they were part of the process. If the idea does work, then you and the team will benefit. Whenever you use an employee’s idea, give them credit. There is nothing worse than a manager that takes all the credit, especially when the idea did not come from him. Earn the respect of your employees, as well as the company’s, by sharing the credit. Always make your team feel valued and be sure to reward those who go above and beyond. Let them know that you appreciate all that they have done.
Autonomy: It’s a Beautiful Thing
Naturally you want the project to be successful so give your team the necessary space to work. Let them work through the challenges and find possible solutions. Give them a chance to make, and learn from, mistakes. Be available as a leader and be willing to get your hands dirty but refrain from micromanaging. This will just cause them to back off, and you could miss out on some great ideas.
Take the Time to Listen
Work-related group activities are essential and should be scheduled regularly to increase team morale. When you start engaging in one-on-one interests with an employee, you begin sending mixed messages about your role as a manager. Establish a healthy line and take care not to cross it. Listening to your employees about their hobbies is one thing, but a good manager keeps the relationship professional and does not partake in those activities with their employees. It is always good to show interest in your employees and listen to their stories. Maybe they want to talk about their weekend, or the home run their son hit. Taking a few minutes to exchange pleasantries makes your employees comfortable and it makes you approachable. Make sure you are there for your team and take the time to listen. You were given two ears for listening and only one mouth for talking for a reason.